Friday, October 17, 2008

Day Fifty Three – Tired, But No Complaints

Well, if anyone is still following the Giorgio family blog, the news after nearly a week at home is overwhelmingly positive – except for the sleep deprivation, of course. Peter has been a dream, but that may be just my (Todd) hallucinogenic recollection of the last few days. He's been waking up at 3.30 and we're working on various strategies to deal with the early mornings. But we're hoping that this morning's result will persist – he woke at 3.45 and crawled into bed with us. We all slept until 6.00 – pure luxury compared to the 3.30 train-playing, book-reading mornings we've experienced earlier this week.

Peter's interests appear to be no different than any other 3.5 year old boy. Trucks, cars and tractors are all fascinating. He's been very interested in a 16 piece tractor puzzle and some flash cards with tactile components (thanks, Diana and Paul!). Riding in the car remains an exciting event. Sherri bought some pumpkins earlier this week, including small ones for Max and Peter. Peter has been carrying his around the house and holding it up with the announcement of 'pumpkin!' for the last couple of days. It's one of his new English words applied correctly and consistently!

Communication has been a non-issue. We are able to get the critical points across and are working on the routine stuff. While we were in Ukraine, Peter never said much. But here, it's non-stop chattering. I (Todd) took Peter for a walk around the lake the other day and he never stopped talking! By translation, I didn't understand a thing he said, but, hey, if he's pointing to the fountain and jabbering away in Ukrainian, well, I get the basic idea.

Peter's fruit eating, observed in Rivne, hasn't changed. He rejected cinnamon toast for breakfast the other morning and grabbed his half-eaten apple instead – he's the healthiest eater in the Giorgio family, for certain. He chomps a banana every morning (today topped off with a hard-boiled egg) and eats all of the grapes and strawberries you provide. One morning, Peter took a nibble of a chocolate donut and put it back in the box!

We visited Peter's new child care center on Thursday in preparation for next week's 9a-to-3p plan. Peter warmed right up to the facilities, riding a pedal car and wanting to stay and check out the outdoor playground. The other children and the caregivers seem very nice and welcoming, so we're expecting a good outcome here.

Last night (Thursday) was a real pleasure. I (Todd) came home to find the boys running laps upstairs with occasional interruptions for wrestling or other boy stuff. We had an easy dinner concluded with some of Miss Tina's beetle candies. She sent them for Max with a mandate for sharing and that plan worked out great. Max felt extra special, Peter had his first beetle (a square pretzel topped with a melted Rolo topped with a pecan (yum!)) and everyone had a fun dessert (thanks, Tina!).

Aunt Lori and Sweet Pea are here tonight and Peter can't decide where to focus his attention. He has come a long way from his hesitation with the orphanage yard dog in Rivne – he was giving Sweet Pea the attention (and head-locks) of a boy unafraid of dogs. He was exhausted by 20.00 and essentially put himself to bed. I am sure that there are many challenges ahead, but we are so grateful for a relatively easy week one in Nashville.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Day Forty Eight – Welcome Home, Peter!

It’s been a long 24 hours for everyone, but a quick note here to say that all is well. Sherri and Peter arrived in JFK on time and Todd met them there, also right on schedule. Peter had a moment of hesitation when he first saw me (Todd), but it’s been nothing but ‘papa, papa, papa’ since. The layover in JFK was tough on everyone as Peter had lots of energy (sorry to everyone in the JFK Delta Crown Room from 15.00-19.00 yesterday). We made the mistake of allowing the toys and books in Peter’s room to be visible – after a couple hours of snoozing on the JFK-BNA plane, he was ready to play after arriving home at 22.30 last night. Then he woke up at 3.45 this morning – ready for more play time.

Peter has already made the initial trips to both Harris Teeter (with Sherri) and Home Depot (with Todd) and he seems perfectly OK with the entirely new experiences. Sherri picked Max up from Nana Giorgio’s house and the first face-to-face between Max and Peter was … completely uneventful. Peter has been very sweet and Max is struggling with the idea of sharing our attention with Peter.

I’ve just finished putting the eye bolts on all the doors (Peter can open the normally locked doors without a problem) while Sherri and Max get Target provisions. Peter’s napping. Everything is good, although we’re sleepy. But tune in tomorrow…

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Day Forty Three – Bye Bye Rivne

We’ve had some communication problems, apparently solved with a mobile phone reboot. The recent news from Sherri includes successful negotiation for a more-rapid-than-expected delivery of Peter’s Ukrainian passport. This one day acceleration relative to the planned schedule gets Sherri and Peter home three days earlier (because they don’t need to spend an extra weekend in Ukraine) – they are scheduled to arrive late Saturday night, 11 October. Sherri has also convinced me to meet them at JFK, so I’m flying to New York on Saturday, meeting Sherri and Peter, and we’re flying back to Nashville together.

Sherri’s plan for Peter’s going-away party on Monday had a few twists and turns. She delivered the cakes and drinks to the orphanage in the morning, intending to return for the party that afternoon. Peter caught her preparing and was crying when she had to leave. Sherri said that she’s never been happier to see her child cry. I (Todd) suspect that Peter will be Sherri’s satellite (if he isn’t already!) much as Max orbits around me. But the Ukrainian-English communication about the party didn’t work as planned – when Sherri returned that afternoon, the party was over and the cakes were gone! She did hear that the cakes were good, though!

So, we’ve fixed the communication difficulties and discovered Sherri and Peter were traveling from Rivne and to Kyiv today (the 7th). We could barely hear each other because they were in a 1960’s era Lada (a Russian car) buzzing down the freeway – trying to avoid bus travel, no doubt. But all seems well and the end game is next: a visit for Peter with a US-approved doctor on Wednesday, presentation of Peter (and our documentation) to the US Consulate on Thursday, delivery (we hope!) of Peter’s visa on Friday…paving the way for the flight home on Saturday!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Day Thirty Nine – Rock And Roll, Rivne Style

I (Sherri) had a good morning with Peter today. When I arrived, they had all of the music instruments I brought out and had a little band going - it was very cute! (Note from Todd – Sherri purchased a suitcase full of child-appropriate musical instruments and brought them back to Rivne as a gift to Peter’s class.) Peter has taken to the harmonica - he wants to take it with him everywhere. I hope that this interest that will pass before we get on the plane!

The kids have in Peter’s class have become really good at collecting and cracking what I think are walnuts – Peter is a big fan of the nuts so I guess that will be something he has in common with the other Giorgio boys. I'll have to get him some nuts for the trip home. (Note from Todd – We saw the kids in Peter’s class collecting nuts from a tree in the orphanage yard and assumed that they were for baking – but it sounds as if they’re good to eat raw as well. And Sherri is right – Max and I chomp through nuts regularly, especially those smokehouse flavored almonds – we can’t keep them in the house!)

I delivered the laminated pictures yesterday. (Note from Todd – We intentionally captured all of Peter’s classmates in pictures on the first trip and then laminated the printed photos in the form of placemats so that they could be used (and abused) regularly. Sherri brought those laminated photos back on this trip.) The caregivers showed them to the kids and laughed a lot, but then put them up on the kitchen counter, so I don't know that our point of getting them laminated so the kids could handle them worked - oh well.

Viktoria is in Kyiv until late Monday night. I was hoping she would come back Sunday night and help me with the party for Peter. I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to order a cake by myself, let alone carry the cake for the kids and a separate one for the teachers (that's what I was told to do) - and juice, too. I was hoping to enlist Nik, but he's having kidney problems and isn't available (apparently he only has one good kidney). (Note from Todd – Nikolai (aka Nik) was our regular taxi driver in Rivne and did the Rivne-Kyiv-Rivne drive when we went to the US Consulate to do some paperwork during a lull in the action of visit number one.)

Day Thirty Six – Back In The Paperwork Jungle

Sherri doesn’t have a computer in Ukraine, so I (Todd) am blogging this from phone conversations with her and some email she has been able to send from the internet cafĂ© in Rivne. The bus trip from Kyiv to Rivne with Viktoria was a real trial. There was something very wrong with the bus (it felt like there was absolutely no suspension) and we could only go about 40 miles per hour. Finally, about 30 minutes outside of Rivne, the driver stopped on the side of the road and had us all board another bus. The entire bus trip took 6 hours!!! I (Sherri) have now given up on any further bus trips in Ukraine, especially after a girl sitting next to Viktoria said that her husband was on a bus last week that crashed and turned over!

Today has been a fairly full day as expected. We started at the lawyer’s office - he had to get the judge to sign ten copies of the court statement approving the adoption. He was very happy with the bottle of Jack Daniels I found in Paris at the duty free shop! After about an hour there we were off to the orphanage to get Peter's original birth certificate. We filed the paperwork and returned four hours later to pick up the new birth certificate. Viktoria said that the birth certificate bureaucrats told her that this process normally takes a week! The next stop – tomorrow – is the tax codes office. Once that is done, we'll pick up Peter and take him to get his passport pictures prepared (so as not to waste time).

Day Thirty Four – Back To Rivne (For Sherri)

After a whirlwind week of preparation, Sherri left Nashville for Atlanta, Paris, Kyiv and Rivne today. We completed the required paperwork while in Ukraine to authorize Sherri as Todd’s representative, enabling the remaining steps to be done while Todd remains in Nashville. The plan is for all of the paperwork to be completed in time for Sherri’s return to Nashville – with Peter – on 14 October.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Day Twenty Six - Home Again

I don’t know what was more exciting for us - to be back on US soil in NY (Sherri said she was going to kiss the customs’ officer) or to be back at home, but I don’t think we’ve ever been happier to get home. We had missed Max terribly, and despite the excellent care he was getting from Aunt Lori and Lydia, it was clear that he was really missing us too.

There is so much to get done while Sherri is here this week - finalizing day care plans for Peter, getting his room set up, thanking friends and family who have gone way above the call of duty in helping with Max in our absence - we could go on, but won’t. Sherri flies back to Kyiv on Sunday morning to complete the adoption for us. We’re hopeful that the rest of the process will go smoothly and she and Peter will be home by mid-October. Given all of the other things she will be lugging back to Kyiv, she won’t be taking the computer, so our blog, unfortunately, will be less frequently updated.

We want to thank all of our friends and family for the amazing encouragement and support each of you have provided through our journey. The saying that the best things in life are those that you have to wait for seems so true these days. We feel very blessed to have found Peter and look forward to bringing him home to complete our family!